Confident Meszaros makes case to stay in lineup


Confident Meszaros makes case to stay in lineup

Andrej Meszaros did his best to prove he deserves to stay in the Flyers’ lineup, at least through the weekend.

The Flyers’ defenseman, who’s spent about half the season watching his team from the stands, racked up three assists in the Flyers’ 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night.

It was the first time he accomplished such a feat since 2006 –- his rookie year.

“I’m just going game by game, and trying to do my best out there,” Meszaros said. “Trying to help the offense as much as I can, and be solid in the defensive zone.”

To say it’s been an “up-and-down” season for the 28-year-old would be putting it mildly. Meszaros has played just 24 games in 2013-14, the first year in a while he’s been healthy. The team’s coaches liked their other options so much more that the Flyers were paying Meszaros $67,073.17 per game not to suit up.

But he’s now played eight games in a row, his most consecutive games this season. Though he said he’s felt good in plenty of other outings, if Wednesday night is any indication, it’s paying dividends.

“It’s good for the confidence for any player, not just me,” Meszaros said. “Obviously, it’s tough when you’re in and out of the lineup. And when you get a chance to play a bunch of games in a row, it helps your confidence.”

Another thing that helped his confidence? Meszaros was recently named to Team Slovakia, and will represent his home country at next month’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“Yeah [it helps],” he said. “Obviously, it’s an honor to be selected, and I’m looking forward to that. When you’re there, and you’re representing your country, it’s always a big thing. I’m obviously happy about it.”

But even before he learned he’d be heading to Sochi, Meszaros was starting to turn a corner. Since returning to the Flyers’ lineup Dec. 23, he has five assists and a plus-5 rating. He’s averaging a solid 16:42 a night over that span.

More importantly, though, he’s feeling comfortable.

“He’s played good hockey,” coach Craig Berube said. “He’s come in and played really well since Gus [Erik Gustafsson] went down. He had a real good game [Wednesday], but overall, he’s improving all the time.

“He’s a good offensive defenseman. He’s a good all-around defenseman who can do a lot of different things. He can skate, he can shoot the puck, he can defend. So, he’s a valuable guy.”

The issue for Meszaros, however, is exactly what Berube mentioned: His return to the lineup happened only after Gustafsson sprained his knee. According to general manager Paul Holmgren, Gustafsson could return as soon as Saturday, when the Flyers host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Though Berube said he’s “not there yet” in terms of making a decision on what happens when Gustafsson returns, there’s no question Meszaros is making a case to stay.

After all, that's all he can do.

“It’s up to the coaches who’s going to be in the lineup,” Meszaros said. “The only thing I can control is play my best, and we’ll see what happens.”

Flyers' solid effort against Canadiens not enough in road loss

Flyers' solid effort against Canadiens not enough in road loss


MONTREAL — It was at least a point in the taking.
A valuable point against the best team in the Eastern Conference, being preserved for the Flyers by goalie Steve Mason.
Despite an outstanding road effort and 30 saves from Mason, it wasn't enough Monday night at Bell Centre as Les Canadiens defeated the Flyers, 3-1 (see Instant Replay).
“We were right there, same as other games this year in the third period,” Jakub Voracek said. “We got scored on from the power play. It happens.”
Brendan Gallagher’s tip at 13:08 on the power play was the difference. Thing is, Boyd Gordon, who won 10 of 12 draws, cleanly directed the draw but it went right to Shea Weber — a faceoff loss — with Alexander Radulov unleashing a wicked shot.
“Sometimes you go against a righty and get jammed and it was more towards their winger,” Gordon said. “I bumped it back. A mix-up up top. Too bad because the PK was good.”
The Flyers have nothing to be ashamed of after Monday's effort. They deserved a better fate. If they continue to play like this, the victories will come.
“I thought Mase played really well but I thought our team played really well,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t have to steal anything. Our team played a real solid road game and it always starts with your goaltender.”
Mason had four point-blank shots he denied in this game.

“We definitely wanted to come in here and get two points and it’s disappointing with the loss,” Mason said. “Nice thing is, we can get right back at it tomorrow [against Buffalo].
“It was a close game overall and both teams had chances to go ahead. They capitalized on a couple bounces there and that’s the ebbs and flows of the game. They found a way to win and we didn’t.”

On the game-winner, Mason was expecting the one-timer from Weber but instead the former defenseman, who came over during the summer in a controversial trade for P.K. Subban, gave it off to Radulov.
“He shot it and I had a good line on it,” Mason said. “Gallagher was able to get his stick on it there and it changed directions on me.”
Curiously, Montreal had four power plays in this game to the Flyers' one despite the evenness of play across the board with the exception of the slot, where Montreal had better chances.
Sean Couturier’s tripping call on Torrey Mitchell was inadvertent, setting up the crucial late power play.
“It was a pretty well-played third period,” Hakstol said. “Tough penalty we ended up getting called on.
“Not much Coots could do. He was dragging his stick to break up the play. It’s a penalty when the stick goes between the legs.”
The Flyers owned much of the second period. While Mason handled a number of rushes right into the crease, he was felled by a point drive from Weber that stanza. 
Weber’s shot was so hard it broke Brayden Schenn’s stick. Yet, the simple truth was Mason was screened out completely by Andrew MacDonald.
Eleven of the Flyers' 13 shots on Carey Price came via five-on-five play that period, most of it contained in the period’s latter third when they were rewarded.
Voracek had a ferocious shift with an open shot in the slot that Price denied, but he kept the puck alive and earned his third goal with a tip of Claude Giroux’s drive from the high slot to make it 1-1.
Voracek has three goals in six games during this first month. He didn’t get his third goal last season until Dec. 19 at Columbus — 33 games.
“Second period is usually the most offensive one,” Voracek said. “It’s too bad we only generated one goal.
“As a game on the road in a tough building against a team that [has lost once], we can be happy the way we played.”

Instant Replay: Canadiens 3, Flyers 1

Instant Replay: Canadiens 3, Flyers 1


MONTREAL — Nothing like coming off a win against a weak opponent like Carolina and then having to face the No. 1 club in the East.
Still, that was the Flyers' task Monday night at Bell Centre against Carey Price and the Canadiens during a very well-played 3-1 loss.
Dave Hakstol’s Flyers gave the Canadiens all they could handle and deserved a point.
Brendan Gallagher’s power-play tip broke a 1-1 tie at 13:08 of the third period.
Notable goals
Jakub Voracek’s second-period tip was his third goal in six games. It took him 33 games last season to score three. That unit with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny created chances all night. On the goal, however, Claude Giroux had come onto the ice for Couturier as part of a change.
Goalie report
Steve Mason had a terrific pad stop on Paul Byron’s first-period breakaway up the left side of the ice. Phillip Danault drove the net twice on Mason from great distance to force a stop. That sequence was repeated too often. Shea Weber’s point shot in the second period shattered Brayden Schenn’s stick, but Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald blocked Mason’s vision in the paint and it became a goal. Mason had several point-blank saves in this one. If not for those, it would have been a rout.
Power play
The Flyers' first one was brutal. They managed just one shot while the Habs cleared the puck four times. The Flyers didn’t get another power play.
Penalty kill
Couturier had a block at the point near the end of one PP. However, he could not get his stick cleanly on it while being trapped by two Canadiens as he tried to come up ice. If the puck had squirted cleanly out of the zone, he might have had a breakaway. The Habs were 1 for 4 on the power play.

Big hits
Wayne Simmonds, after coming out of the box for serving a holding call early in the game, nailed Habs defenseman Andrei Markov along the side board with a cross check that sent the defenseman face-first into the boards. That will be reviewed. Markov stayed down to sell the penalty that never came. Alexander Radulov rattled Nick Cousins that period, as well, and was called for interference.
Radko Gudas (suspended) and Dale Weise (suspended). Scott Laughton (knee), Michael Del Zotto (knee) and Michael Raffl (abdominal pull). 
Up next
The Flyers are playing back-to-back games and will host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center. This is the Flyers' second set of consecutive games since the season began on Oct. 14.